Longtime closer Francisco Rodriguez, currently pitching for the Tigers, told ESPN this evening that he contracted Zika virus this offseason while he was in his native Venezuela. The 34-year-old pitcher described what happened to him while he was sick, and it sounds pretty gnarly. The most alarming effect of Zika is still microcephaly, but it sounds like a painful, lingering illness to deal with:
Rodriguez, a 34-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela, contracted the virus this past offseason and learned just how serious the illness can be. He was laid up for two weeks with severe bodyaches, joint pain, headaches and a myriad of other symptoms.
According to Rodriguez, the effects stuck with him well into spring training:
“It wasn’t a cold, trust me,” he said. “It wasn’t a cold. A cold you have a sneeze, have a headache, take a couple Tylenol, and you’re done. You don’t have a cold for two weeks, you don’t have a bodyache for two weeks, you don’t have headaches, throwing up, weaknesses for two weeks.
Rodriguez, who recently became only the sixth pitcher in MLB history to record 400 saves, had bloodwork performed to see whether he had Zika or Chikungunya, a different mosquito-borne illness, which Tigers prospect Bruce Rondon contracted this offseason. The test determined it was Zika, and from there it was a slow recovery. Though Rodriguez was infected with the virus for only two weeks, the effects were far-reaching.
Rodriguez said it took two months before he ultimately felt like himself again, adding that the recovery even impacted him once he got into spring training with his new club, though he was never considered contagious.
The Olympics are just over two month away, and several famous athletes have expressed worry over travelling to Rio, including Pau Gasol and Serena Williams. Rodriguez didn’t call for anyone to boycott the Olympics, but he did warn athletes to do their research, especially if they were planning on having children.